Mac 911 - Sept. 2006

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Restoring sidebar entries

I accidentally removed the Computer entry from the Finder sidebar. How can I get it back?— Nathan Parker

It’s easy enough to lose things in the sidebar—drag them out, and they disappear in a puff of smoke. Thankfully, they’re easy to replace. Choose Finder: Preferences, click on the Sidebar tab, and enable Computer. Your computer will reappear in the sidebar. Want to add other items to the sidebar? Just select them in the Finder and press Command-T.

Smarter backup burning

I’ve got a smart folder in the Finder to track files created or modified after a certain date. I would love to be able to burn the contents of this folder to a disc for backup. But it looks as though it contains only aliases. Is there any way to burn the actual files to disc?— Victor Navone

You can do it, if you use Automator in league with a burn folder. First, in the Finder create a burn folder (File: New Burn Folder.) Next, grab a copy of Johan Carlsson’s Get Smart Folder Contents Automator action ( Install this action and then create the following workflow:

1. Get Smart Folder Contents. From the pop-up menu, select the smart folder that contains the files you want to back up.

2. Copy Finder Items. Choose the burn folder you just created from this action’s To pop-up menu. Assuming you’ll always be burning the folder’s contents to disc immediately after running this workflow, click on the Options triangle and enable the Replacing Existing Files option. This will ensure that the workflow copies only truly new files to the burn folder (see top screenshot). Once you’ve configured the workflow to your satisfaction, choose File: Save As and save the workflow as an application.

When you’re ready to copy the current contents of your smart folder to the burn folder, double-click on the app you’ve created. Insert a blank disc in your burner, and click on the burn folder’s Burn button.

You can accomplish much the same thing less conveniently without Automator. Just create a burn folder, open the smart folder containing your recently modified files, and drag its contents to the burn folder. Although the smart folder’s contents are aliases, the burn folder will burn the original files to the disc.

Tweaking Pages’ templates

Is there any way to change the default paper size and font in Apple’s Pages documents? My new documents always open in A4 paper size, and I end up changing them to letter size every time.— David Albrecht

My fervent prayer is that a future version of Mac OS will allow you to save individual Page Setup configurations for each application—A4 in Pages, US Legal in Keynote, and so on. Until that happens, you have to hold out hope that the application in question provides a way to modify its templates and save those modifications. Fortunately, Pages does.

For example, if you routinely choose the Business Letter template from Pages’ templates sheet, choose it, make the changes you want to its font and Page Setup settings, and choose File: Save As Template. Give it a name you’re likely to remember—My Business Letters, for example—and click on Save. The template, complete with your new font and Page Setup settings, will be saved to the My Templates folder and will appear when you click on the My Templates entry in Pages’ templates sheet.

A roomful of zoom

Recently, I attended a workshop where the presenter was using Keynote. When he wanted to show something on his screen in detail, he was able to zoom in on the cursor. Do you know how he did this?— Greg Larson

My guess is that he used the Universal Access preference pane, like so:

Launch System Preferences and click on the Universal Access preference pane. In the Seeing tab, enable the Zoom option and click on Options. In the sheet that appears, set the Maximum Zoom slider to 2 and leave the Minimum Zoom slider where it is. Enable the Only When The Pointer Reaches An Edge option at the bottom of the sheet and click on Done. Next, in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse pane, make sure you’ve enabled all the Universal Access shortcuts.

When you’re ready to highlight something on screen, press Command-option-equal sign (=). Your Mac will zoom in by a factor of 2x, with the cursor in the middle of the magnified area. To move around, simply drag to an edge; the screen will scroll in that direction (see middle screenshot). To zoom out, press Command-option-minus key (-). To toggle zooming on and off, press Command-option-8. You can customize all of these keyboard commands in the Keyboard Shortcuts tab of the Keyboard & Mouse preference pane.

Slimming Mail’s IMAP messages

Sometimes, when I’m using Mail to check my IMAP e-mail account for one brief text message, I have to wait while a message with a huge file attachment downloads first. Is there any way to look at just the headers before Mail downloads entire messages?— Tony Sturges

Mail won’t allow you to download just the headers. But it will let you download your messages without their attachments.

To do this, select Preferences: Accounts and select your IMAP account. Click on the Advanced tab. In the Keep Copies Of Messages For Offline Viewing pop-up menu, choose All Messages, But Omit Attachments. From now on, Mail will download just the messages. To retrieve attachments, you will have to click on the Save button in the messages that contain them.

For POP accounts, you can ask Mail to prompt you before downloading messages over a certain size. To do so, select the POP account, choose the Advanced tab, and enter a value in the field that reads Prompt Me To Skip Messages Over X KB. When a message comes in that exceeds the size you’ve set, Mail will ask you whether you want to skip it.

I do wish Mail was a bit more flexible in this regard. Let’s say you’ve set up a schedule to download your mail every hour and you’re not sitting in front of your computer when it starts. If you don’t respond to Mail’s prompt within 15 seconds, it will go ahead and start downloading messages even if they exceed your size limits. Entourage, on the other hand, allows you to download a portion of any message that exceeds a certain size. This means you can peruse the subjects at your leisure offline and then choose exactly which messages you want to download.

Covering your tracks

I’d like to delete specific, saved Google search entries without having to reset Safari. Is there a way to delete such cached entries individually?— Via the Internet

It’s possible to cherry-pick the searches you’d like to clear, but frankly, it’s a pain in the neck. As Mac 911 forum reader Peter Weber explains it, this is what you have to do: quit Safari, launch the Property List Editor from the Developer Tools (an optional installation found on the Mac OS X Installer disc), open /Library/Preferences/ .Safari.plist, and look for recent searches in the RecentSearchStrings. Once you’ve found that list, select each entry you’d like to remove and click on the Property List Editor’s Delete button. Close the window and click on Save in the sheet that appears, and the entries you deleted will no longer appear in the list of searches.

If you’d rather save your neck, there are a couple of ways to clear out old searches en masse.

The first is to click on the magnifying-glass icon in Safari’s Google search field and choose Clear Recent Searches. This prevents prior searches from appearing as autofill entries. Firefox includes a similar feature. Just control-click on the Google search field and choose Clear Search History.

To complete the cleansing, open Safari: Preferences, click on the AutoFill tab, and click on the Edit button next to the Other Forms entry. Choose from the sheet that appears and click on Remove. This zaps any Google autofills.

If you want to prevent Safari from recording your searches in the future, turn on Private Browsing (found under the Safari menu). With Private Browsing on, Safari won’t add Web pages to its history, it will automatically remove items from its Downloads window, it won’t create autofill entries, and it won’t add searches to the Google search field.

Sunk by sync

In iPhoto, I can create perfectly synchronized slide shows in which the images and soundtrack match up perfectly. But when I try to export such slide shows to a QuickTime movie, the pictures and sound fall out of sync. What can I do?— Craig Crossman

The solution is to not use iPhoto. Instead, open a new iMovie project, import your pictures as still images (you can import multiple images by dragging them into the clip bin), adjust their length as necessary (by selecting a photo, clicking on Show Photo Settings, and adjusting the tortoise-hare slider), and add a soundtrack to one of the program’s two audio tracks. When everything is to your liking, export the project as a QuickTime movie. Choose File: Export, click on the QuickTime tab, and select an export setting from the Compress Movie For pop-up menu. Or send it to iDVD by choosing Share: iDVD.

If you’ve already exported your iPhoto slide show as a QuickTime movie and you’d rather not re-create it in another application, drag the movie into a new iMovie project. Place it in the timeline, and choose Advanced: Extract Audio to place the movie’s audio into a track of its own. Once you’ve got the audio separated, you can pull it back into sync (see bottom screenshot). Again, choose File: Export to save the synced-up movie in QuickTime.

You can do something similar with GarageBand 3: launch it, choose New Movie Score from the opening window, name your project, and click on Create. In the resulting project window, drag the movie into the Video track to separate the video and audio (into the Video and Video Sound tracks, respectively). You can now nudge the audio track to get it into sync. Choose Share: Export Movie To Disk when you’re done.

Combine a smart folder, a burn folder, and this Automator action to back up your work with ease.Mac OS X’s Universal Access preference pane can help you put the focus on an important part of your screen.Using iMovie to edit out-of-sync audio tracks in iPhoto slide shows isn’t pretty, but it does the job.
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